‘No longer a pageant’: Miss America scrapping swimsuit competition to focus on talent, achievements

Big changes are coming to the Miss America competition.

Gretchen Carlson, chairman of the Miss America Organization’s Board of Trustees, announced the changes on Good Morning America Tuesday — emphasizing that “it’s no longer a pageant, it’s a competition.”

“We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance,” she said. “That’s huge.”

That means, she said, there will no longer be a swimsuit competition, and the evening gown competition phase will be revamped.

It will all be official in time for the Sept. 9 competition in Atlantic City.

The decision comes in the midst of the #MeToo movement. Just last month, Miss America named its first all-female leadership team of former pageant winners.

Regina Hopper was appointed president and CEO of the Miss America Organization, and Marjorie Vincent-Tripp was named as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Foundation.

Including Carlson, the trio takes over for the leaders of the Miss America Organization who resigned in December after the Huffington Post revealed that leaders and employees had sent emails disparaging pageant contestants, including references to their weight and sex lives.

Carlson said the organization wants to be open, transparent and inclusive to women who may have not been comfortable participating before.

“We’re no longer judging women when they come out in their chosen attire, their evening wear,” she said. “Whatever they choose to do, it’s going to be what comes out of their mouths that we’re interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives.”

Although the competition began as a swimsuit pageant, Carlson said the talent portion of the event has the highest ratings.

“We want more women to know they are welcome in this organization,” she said. “We think we’re going to have a huge influx. Who doesn’t want to be empowered, learn leadership skills and earn scholarships?”